CMS revamps digital offering

Chouhan: Things are incredibly busy right now
Chouhan: Things are incredibly busy right now

Central Mailing Services (CMS) has spent around £430,000 revamping its digital print production offering with new engines from Konica Minolta and Xerox to keep up with demand.

The lion’s share of the Birmingham-based mailing house’s spend, around £370,000 was on a quartet of Konica Minolta devices.

“Provided customer demand is there, and at the moment it is and we’re up to capacity, then we will have to keep investing otherwise we will be turning away work,” said CMS managing director Mitesh Chouhan.

While he said the business has made significant investments in the enclosing side of its operations over the past 12 months, it had got to the point where print couldn’t keep up with enclosing.

As a result, the business has ordered two of Konica Minolta’s flagship AccurioPress C14000s, which are capable of 140ppm A4 or 80ppm A3.

The highly specified cutsheet toner machines have a duty cycle of 2.5m sheets/month and can also handle 1,300mm and duplex banner printing up to 900mm and stock ranges up to 450gsm, or 300gsm for textured stock.

For litho overprinting work it has ordered a brace of AccurioPress 6136P mono engines which offer 136ppm A4 or 78ppm A3 and can handle stock weights up to 350gsm.

As well as the four AccurioPress machines CMS is poised to sign for a 120 A4 ppm Xerox Iridesse from Zerographic.

The duplexing colour press can handle grades from 52-400gsm and while it can be configured to run CMYK with optional fifth and sixth colours including clear, white, gold and silver, CMS's machine will be dedicated to CMYK.

The five new presses will be like-for-like replacements for five of the firm’s ten Xerox engines, two Versant 80s, two 2100s and one mono Nuvera 157, but will significantly boost output through higher speeds and uptimes, according to Chouhan.

“I basically challenged Richard [Hooper, operations director] to go out to market and find the best machines available and test them with our most challenging jobs and the C14000 outperformed everything,” said Chouhan.

“With the five new machines combined we can deal with virtually anything our clients ask of us.”

He added that he had ruled out investing in high-speed inkjet as the click-charge cutsheet model was better suited to its business.

“We did look at it, but there were two dealbreakers for me on inkjet. The first was that you can’t put thicker stocks through… and secondly it’s a real mixed bag of artwork we get from our clients, so one might 5% coverage on the letter and the next 55% and with inkjet the cost is based on coverage.”

He said that he had worked out that breakeven would be 25-30% coverage, anything less is higher margin, more is lower – but this presented a problem as client artwork was often not even designed at the quote stage.

“I get how it works for some businesses, but we felt from a sales side it was too ‘blind’ as our work is so varied.

“But if at some point in the future an inkjet press, at a reasonable price, came onto the market that could print on 400gsm and wasn’t caveated by coverage – then we’re interested.”

All five new toner engines are scheduled to be installed during May. The firm has also ordered an MBO T50 B2 buckle folder from Friedheim International for “bolt cutting” – where A3 documents are cross folded to A5 and edge trimmed to essentially give a nested A4 document with an A5 in it, which is popular with charity mailings.

The £60,000 machine is on a 12 week delivery timescale.

Other recent investments include PReS Connect multi-channel customer communication management software from Objectif Lune. It’s also looking at replacing at its inhouse MIS.

After slimming the firm’s headcount to around 60 at the onset of the pandemic, the business is now back up to around 85 employees supported by 15 agency staff for peak times.

“Things are incredibly busy right now, in the last 24 hours we have produced more than a million items, every area of the business, even polywrapping is really busy,” said Chouhan.

According to Chouhan, the paper wrapping side of the business “has been 24-7” with the group counting down the days until the slightly delayed delivery of its second 20,000cph CMC One paper wrapping line with a CMC Robot 2000 automated delivery system Domino K600i 220mm-wide UV inkjet system.

Originally scheduled for a March delivery, it’s now going in next week.